The five Memphis Police officers involved in the tragic death of Tyre Nichols have officially been relieved of their duties.
Nichols was pulled over on January 7th for reckless driving near Raines Road and Ross Road. When officers approached the vehicle, a confrontation of some sort ensued before the 29-year-old fled on foot. Law enforcement pursued him and eventually arrested Nichols, just 80 yards from his parent’s home. During the arrest, five officers viciously beat the skateboarder and aspiring photographer, who complained of trouble breathing. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died three days later. A photo has circulated on the internet showing Nichols badly beaten while in ICU before his death. His swollen face has been described as “unrecognizable” by his family.
On Monday, the Memphis Police Department announced that Officers Justin Smith, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., and Emmitt Martin III were fired. The decision followed an internal administrative review that determined each officer violated the department’s duty to intervene and offer aid when serious injury has occurred. Nichols’ loved ones have accused them of beating him mercilessly until he suffered a heart attack and kidney failure.
Ahead of the termination announcement, officials met with Nichols’ family and their lawyers to show them the bodycam footage. Attorney Antonio Romanucci said the officers, who were all Black, used the defenseless man as a “human piñata.” Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump compared the beating to that of Rodney King in 1991. The acquittal of the officers who assaulted him sparked days of riots in Los Angeles the following year.
Bodycam footage will be released to the public within the next two weeks. The fired officers will have an opportunity to appeal their terminations at a hearing Friday.